Gambling Commission delays two safer gambling requirements as licensees struggle with deadline
The Gambling Commission (UKGC) has postponed the introduction of new rules that require operators to take action on the first signs of gambling-related harm and ban licensees from sending marketing messages to vulnerable consumers.
The decision was taken by the regulator after the industry requested an extension to the deadline. Operators will now need to comply with the new rules by the later date of 12 February 2023.
In April, the UKGC published a set of new safer gambling measures, which require operators to do more to identify and take action to protect consumers at risk of harm.
In June, this was followed by new consumer protection guidance to help operators comply with the new requirements, which were set to take effect on 12 September.
However, operators were struggling to meet the deadline, citing technical challenges in meeting the new standards.
“After careful consideration, we have decided that the majority of the new requirements will come into force as planned,” the UKGC said.
“Remote gambling operators are already subject to a duty to conduct effective customer interaction, and the new requirements reflect the minimum steps that we consider are necessary to meet that duty,” the Commission added.
However, two new standards will no longer be enforced in time for next week’s deadline.
The first was the requirement to take timely action where indicators of vulnerability are identified, while the second delayed requirement was based on the prevention of marketing new bonus offers to those showing strong indicators of harm.
The UKGC’s decision can be read here.
UKGC: “Remote gambling operators are already subject to a duty to conduct effective customer interaction, and the new requirements reflect the minimum steps that we consider are necessary to meet that duty.”
In addition, operators will also not be required to take into account the UKGC’s guidance on customer interaction for remote operators.
Instead, the regulator plans to conduct a consultation on the guidance, which will likely to be launched during late September and will last for six weeks.
“The guidance is a living document which is intended to be amended over time,” said the UKGC. “As part of the consultation, we will be particularly interested to hear about good practice in implementing the requirements, based on the lessons learned by operators during the period between April and September and to hear about any implications arising out of recent research, evidence and casework,” the UKGC said.
The UKGC promised to carefully consider all views expressed in response to the consultation before taking a decision.
The industry can expect the updated guidance on the requirements to be published in December 2022, and it will take effect approximately two months after publication.
“We consider this will allow the industry a reasonable period to consider the guidance before it takes effect,” the UKGC added.
Requirements that will come into force next week include the monitoring of a specific range of indicators, as a minimum, to identify gambling harm, and the implementation of automated processes for strong indicators of harm.
However, the two delayed safer gambling requirements are likely to attract negative attention from the industry’s detractors during a time where gambling-related harm is still at the forefront of the discussion in the UK ahead of the release of the Gambling Act review white paper.